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A Room Made of Leaves

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I really believe that Elizabeth was the main partner in developing the merino empire, especially knowing her family background in England, and also the fact that her husband spent so many years away from the farm.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Forced to travel with him to New South Wales, she arrives to find Sydney Town a brutal, dusty, hungry place of makeshift shelters, failing crops, scheming and rumours. I was slightly put out when , at the end, I realised that this had all been a trick, but in a way it somehow made me appreciate this stunning novel even more.Join the Women's Prize newsletter for a chance to win a stack of all 6 brilliant 2023 shortlisted books, and get the latest book news, author features and exciting competitions!

A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville's first novel in almost a decade. He was a man with a very ordinary heritage, his father was a Scottish draper and it seems he was a man wanting to be part of the gentry but without the means to become one. The story unfolds in small chapter-fragments, their short paragraphs packed with gorgeous descriptions of the Australian landscape — “a slice of harbor rough and blue like lapis”, a stone overhang “with a fraying underside, soft as cake, that glowed yellow” — and compressed emotional power. Inspired by the real life of a remarkable woman, this is an extraordinarily rich, beautifully wrought novel of resilience, courage and the mystery of human desire. In The Dictionary of Lost Words (read recently) I felt the author covered the topics Grenville tries to cover here, but more deftly; with more sensitivity to handling the lives of real people.The writing is in brief chapters each exquisitely sculpted with deep insights into love, societal norms of that time which translate to this, descriptions of nature often leaving one breathless at the skill and deep emotion she reveals seemingly so simply.

His letters – far from bland and sedate – show him to have been a clever, ruthless bully, a dangerous man to cross, violent and unforgiving towards anyone who tried to go against him.

Before that was the feeling that that the day could last as long as I wished, and none of it needed to be spent indoors. Grenville believes that these letters, sent from Australia to family and friends in England, present carefully constructed, lady-like fictions designed to both conceal and subtly reveal the truth. With an unmistakable air of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë, this story will transport you to a time gone by where you will lose yourself! And it’s taken the skill of the author to turn these memoirs into an intriguing depiction of life for those early Australian settlers.

I didn’t feel the connection- and while I admired her tenacity and drive in the face of a completely male dominated society- I wish Granville explored more of her inner workings - her fears, joy and sorrow. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. It is almost the only memory I have of Father, the smell of his tweed, his big warm self beside me, taking my hands in his and putting them on the teats, wrapping my fingers around their damp softness. I have very mixed feelings about this book – I really enjoyed the story about life for the settlers in Sydney’s earliest days, and I really like Kate Grenville’s beautiful and evocative writing style.

The epigraph to A Room Made of Leaves issues a warning that resonates throughout the novel, as Kate Grenville invites the reader to reflect on the complex relationship between truth and falsehood, history and fiction. There was the feeling of fields, and animals busy about their own lives, and the way those lives were bound intimately to mine. Reading her letters, you’d think he was a kindly, cheerful, reasonable man beloved of all around him. For that reason, the stories that come out of them, although starting in the same place, can end up very differently.

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